NEW YORK — Think about this as the real fight.
Forget that “event” three weeks earlier that is making such a splash. The middleweight bout in Las Vegas on Sept. 16 between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez is all about boxing.
Showdown, not showtime.
Sure, Floyd Mayweather is coming out of retirement to face mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor on Aug. 26 in a matchup that has generated tremendous buzz. But for true fans of the “sweet science,” Golovkin-Alvarez is the most anticipated fight since Mayweather outpointed Manny Pacquiao two years ago.
One that figures to be a lot more of a fight than Mayweather-Pacquiao, too.
“Conor is not a boxer, he’s a UFC fighter,” Golovkin said Tuesday. “That is a big commercial show, it’s show business. It’s not boxing and people understand if they want a true boxing show, a classic, it is Sept. 16.”
That would be when the undefeated Triple G (37-0, 33 knockouts) puts his middleweight belts on the line against Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs, the loss to Mayweather in 2013).
“The fact it’s three weeks before the major boxing holiday of Sept. 16 and a classic fight between two great champions doesn’t affect it a bit,” adds promoter Oscar De La Hoya. “If people want to see a real fight, then tune in on Sept. 16.”
Golovkin-Alvarez has been a long time in the making. There were claims the fighters (and their promoters) were ducking each other, or that top money wasn’t there. But after Golovkin outpointed Danny Jacobs — his first fight going 12 rounds — and Alvarez destroyed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier this year, the bout was made.
At 35, Triple G is nearly nine years older than Alvarez. He doesn’t see that as significant.
“I feel like 25,” Golovkin told The Associated Press. “I believe on Sept. 16, I will have my peak. It will be amazing for boxing.”
Alvarez, who wasn’t quite ready for a tactical master like Mayweather in their 2013 fight, believes he’s matured now. Of course, Mayweather never has punched like Triple G does.
“I was very young against Mayweather. I didn’t have the experience that I possess now, the wisdom I can display when I’m in the ring, the total fighter I’ve become,” he said. “It’s all very different. I was 22, 23 in that fight. I was a bit immature with my boxing to face someone like Mayweather, but we fought and that was the outcome.
“But I learned a lot of stuff. Things about being in the ring and outside the ring. It all motivated me more. I always crave to be the best and I’m the best right now.”
That will be proven — or disproven — three months from now. What is unquestioned is that Alvarez has a strong following in Las Vegas, where Golovkin has never fought. He also looked far better in his most recent win than did Golovkin, though the difference in quality of opponent was vast.
Then again, Triple G might have benefited from going the distance with Jacobs, another hard puncher.
“I needed that fight with Danny. He brought me to the 12th round,” Golovkin said, a smile creasing his face. “I needed the experience of the decision. I needed the decision part to show it is the second step (besides winning by knockout).”
Alvarez doesn’t expect any decisions in this fight. As De La Hoya notes, more than 75 percent of their fights have ended in KOs. Neither is interested in having the judges decide a winner.
“We’ll have a knockout in all likelihood due to the heavy punch of both, the style of both,” Alvarez said. “And obviously it is that they will raise my arm at the end of the fight.”
Kathy Willens, The Associated Press
Six time boxing title holder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, right, of Mexico, sits beside a giant photograph of his upcoming opponent, IBF and WBC world middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, during an interview, Tuesday, June 20, 2017, at The Associated Press headquarters in New York.
Or Triple G’s.
Regardless, both the Mexican Alvarez and the Kazakh Golovkin see themselves as heroes, inside the ring and out. This fight is about more than owning some belts.
“There have been great fighters in Mexico, so many great legends. And I respect all of them,” Alvarez said. “Every fighter has their history. I’m writing mine. This is my era, I’m taking care of mine.
“I’m 26 and I’ve been part of some of the greatest fights. I’ve broken records. I’m already part of history, but I have so much to attain and I have no intention of wasting a single opportunity.”
Golovkin, also an Olympic silver medalist, hasn’t been one to let great opportunities slip by.
“This is special for both of us,” he said. “We are national heroes and boxing heroes. I don’t know who is close to us in boxing.
“I know Canelo is a hero of his country and his city, and we have the same situation. I feel big support and not just as a national hero, but for the whole world.”
Then, laughing, Triple G added: “Like Superman or Batman or Iron Man.”